Photo: Ivy Dawned, Flickr
As of July 9, the U.S.D.A. and the F.D.A. began to jointly oversee egg manufacturers including food safety inspections, but prior to the outbreak, the two institutions monitored entirely different sectors of egg production. Before the new standards, the U.S.D.A. took responsibility for the inspection of chickens and their living conditions, whereas the F.D.A. surveyed chicken feed and the eggs produced. Somewhere between the two, something slipped through the cracks.
Aimed to prevent such large scale outbreaks, the F.D.A. and U.S.D.A. will now both oversee egg production, which will "prevent each year approximately 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis," according to the U.S.D.A. If successful, this would be a nearly 60 percent reduction in egg-related salmonella illnesses.
Thus far, two major egg producers have issued a national voluntary egg recall, including Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, both of Iowa and both suspected sources for the contaminated egg inventory. In a television interview on August 22, commissioner of the F.D.A., Margaret Hamburg, expressed suspicion that these farms were not in compliance with F.D.A. Standards. Whether through oversight or a gap in evaluation between the two agencies, the fact remains that both failed to prevent such missteps before contaminated eggs reached consumers.
Upon the new ruling on July 9, Hamburg expressed confidence in the renewed food safety framework: "Preventing harm to consumers is our first priority. Today's action will help prevent thousands of serious illnesses from Salmonella in eggs."